By Ayo Onikoyi
The 3rd edition of the Anambra Business and Investment Rountable (ABR) took place on November 25, 2019; the theme was “Beyond Infrastructure: Rethinking the Future”.
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In a progression from previous editions, which had dealt with identifying untapped potentials and drawing investment among other things, the focus was on how to guarantee a prosperous and sustainable future in addition to present efforts to boost the economy of the state and guarantee a more sustainable future for her citizens. Crafting a 50-year development plan that Ndi Anambra and the South East in general could be proud of, was on the front burner as the Executive Governor of the state, Chief Willie Obiano, hosted eminent guests and citizens of the state.
After the governor declared the one-day event open, he took attendees on a memory lane of happenings at the maiden edition of Anambra Business and Investment Roundtable themed “Consolidating on the Vision”, convened on March 16, 2018. Brainstorming at that event largely focused on maximizing the benefits of anchor economic pillars – oil & gas, agriculture, trade and commerce, and industrialization – as well as taking advantage of the new ones – hospitality, entertainment, new media and technology.
Governor Obiano went further to review the 2nd edition of ABR; held in New York City on September 25, 2019 and Washington DC on September 26, 2019, it was themed “Finding Diamonds in the Rough”. Speaking on this, he clarified that the thrust of that event was to attract the needed investments to boost development in the state. Indeed, it was a show of practical commitment in making Anambra the first port of call for investors coming into Nigeria and the favourite location to site new industries.
In the round up of his address, Governor Obiano highlighted that the 2019 edition of ABR would be offering stakeholders, comprising of business leaders, investors, bankers, financiers, non-governmental and development agencies (both local and international), valuable insights into Anambra’s investment landscape and the available potentials in different industries with lucrative openings for public-private-partnership.
In an earlier press conference, the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget, and Development, Mark Okoye, had mentioned the state government’s “desire to engender inclusive and more sustainable economic growth”, taking into account the cumulative impact of issues like rising population, demographic change, and ongoing digital revolution as the impetus for the convening of the 3rd edition of the Anambra Business and Investment Roundtable.
Ike Chioke, GMD, Afrinvest and chairman, Anambra Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), pointed out in his speech that the roundtable provides clear insight on how the state government plans to partner with the private sector to further the legacy projects of the Obiano administration as can be seen in infrastructure, housing, agriculture, tourism, hospitality, education, healthcare as well as ICT and the creative industry.
The Keynote Speaker at this year’s event was Leostan Ekeh (Chairman, Zinox Group), who appreciated the governor for the opportunity. In his speech, he advised the state government to invest in training in digital knowledge and to start by empowering teachers. He asserted that the labour market is in dire need of more digitally skilled graduates in contrast to the masses of ‘analog’ graduates, who are not relevant to current market realities, which the state education system currently produces.
In closing, Mr Ekeh submitted that we must invest in our children.
Highlights of the 2019 edition of the Anambra Business and Investment Roundtable included panel sessions with seasoned and respected thought leaders in business and other spheres of life. They provided insightful contributions on the focal points which Chairman, ANSIPPA, Ike Chioke, had mentioned.
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The event ended on a proactive and optimistic note with the governor, His Excellency, Willie Obiano, inaugurating a committee chaired by Prof Charles Soludo; it is charged with the responsibility of making the Anambra 2070 vision a reality.